28/10/20

How To F*ck Being Humble With Stefanie Sword-Williams

Stefanie founded the F*ck Being Humble platform to change stigmas around self-promotion and help individuals find their most confident selves and empower them to be proud of their achievements.

What does self-promotion mean to you?

Self-promotion to me means being comfortable in your abilities to confidently communicate these abilities to others. It doesn't have to be an intimidating or cringe word, it's really just about recognising your worth and sharing it.

When was the first time you ever promoted yourself?

This question made me smile because I've probably been self-promoting from the age of 5. Promoting is just storytelling which is engrained in my personality and something that I do professionally and personally. I think I first got comfortable with promoting at university, I did a really hands-on degree where we were regularly pitching and selling our ideas as well as having them ripped to shreds! I built a thick skin and learned early on that you won't always smash everything you do, but you will improve the more you practice.

For those struggling with imposter syndrome, what's the best way to beat it?

Something that has often helped me and others that I support is instead of worrying about the activity or hurdle itself, focus your energy on the end result instead. Whether it's securing a higher salary to secure your next holiday with your friends, or giving a public talk that could inspire someone to chase a dream of their own. When you focus on the benefits or the incredible outcomes that could happen from showing how talented you are, the pressure becomes more manageable and you also have a goal to work towards.

We love the #AOCCHALLENGE, why is it such an important social movement?

I have long admired the work of AOC, she is an ultimate dream mentor of mine for so many reasons but in particular because she gives hope to the underdogs out there. Which right now, is the inspiration we need. Championing and celebrating people for their abilities has always been at the core of F*ck Being Humble's mission and it's so important to see women like her leading the way, challenging industry norms and showing up trolls instead of being defeated by them. The graphic didn't take long for me to create, but I was so moved to see followers start the #AOCCHALLENGE as result, particularly those who had set out time to do their own photoshoots. It's been incredible to see women supporting one another, but most importantly supporting themselves for their professional achievements, something we know has long been a struggle for females around the world.

For the person that says ‘being humble is a good thing’ - what would you respond?

I say I absolutely agree. I actually like to make it really clear at the start of any of my talks, the content I produce and in my recent book, that I do totally believe in humility. But what I don't believe in, is being so modest that it stops you from putting forward your best self at times where you should speak up. It is so common to see people who hold themselves back riddled by the fear of sounding arrogant, but I always try to highlight, that staying quiet is actually more arrogant. Because you're assuming that other people will notice you and celebrate you just for doing a good job. I really wish this was the case, but from experience, the more you share achievements and your skills, the more doors you open. Being humble should always have a space in your career but it should never limit the moments that could shape your life.

For all recent graduates, how can they make the best first impression when applying for jobs?

Stop worrying that you don't have enough industry experience and make the most of what you've got! Really unpick what you've previously done on university projects and identify the qualities you can impress employers with. And if you're still struggling self-initiate briefs to target the industry you want to go into, there are so many problems in the world that need solving, you don't need a client to commission you!

Why is it so important to be your own career hypeman and how can we do this?

We spend way too much time caring about what others think about us which ends up with us waiting for their approval. But actually when you take control of your own self-promotion, you invest way more energy in making sure you succeed than anyone else will. Please don't wait around for others to validate you, when you could validate yourself right now and own your achievements with pride.

Do we have to practice self-promotion habitually, like with a daily mantra?

I don't think there is a one size fits all for self-promotion because it really is down to what you feel most authentic doing. For me I encourage people to adopt F*ck Being Humble as a mindset, so the next time you catch yourself shying away in meetings or being self-deprecating you instead think, 'F*ck Being Humble I'm not going to miss this opportunity'. If creating a vision board helps you to see yourself succeeding, do it. If writing down a weekly thing you're proud of helps for you to believe in yourself, do it. Or if just posting one achievement a month on Linkedin helps to raise your profile, do it.

Top tip to help your confidence?

Learning to accept positive comments and praise that you receive instead of resisting is a really big step. Ask your peers, your family, your colleagues, previous bosses why they loved working with you or being around you and they will give you all the confidence you need.

Top three podcasts to listen to if you're looking for a guilt-free break from work?

I love listening to inspirational stories about people's journeys, so probably How To Fail, How I Built This, and Table Manners.

Have you ever bought into interview prep tactics such as with the superwoman pose?!

I haven't tried them personally but my biggest tip is prep and research. Know yourself inside out and know the company you're applying for inside out too. And if you can find a way to drop in a new opportunity they could explore, it's always great to have people who are thinking about how a business can grow in the future.

Buy 'F*ck Being Humble' here.

Follow Stefanie on Instagram here.

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